Home:  Early Light Bulbs: EDISON CARBON FILAMENT BULB, 1900's


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This bulb is an Edison 100 volt 16 candlepower carbon filament.
Contrary to popular belief, Edison didn't "invent" the light bulb, but rather he improved upon a 50-year-old idea. In 1879, he used a lower current of electricity, a small carbonized filament, and an improved vacuum inside the globe, he was then able to produce a reliable, long-lasting source of light. The idea of electric lighting was not new, and a number of people had worked on, and even developed forms of electric lighting. But up to that time, nothing had been developed that was remotely practical for home use. After about one and a half years of work, he produced an incandescent lamp with a filament of carbonized sewing thread that burned for thirteen and a half hours.

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  • Not a memory, more a comment about the information about Edison on this article...

    Most people do tend to associate the invention of the light bulb with Edison, however most are also unaware of the contribution that British inventor Sir Joseph Wilson Swan made to the light bulb - or the fact that he received a British patent for his device in 1878, about a year before Thomas Edison! He also demonstrated a working device before Edison, at a lecture at Sunderland Technical College in February 1879 (Edison did not publicly show a working lamp until December of that year). There was even a fairly public legal wrangle about alleged "patent infringement" of Edison's work, however To avoid a possible court battle, which he would likely lose, with Joseph Swan, he and Swan formed a joint company in 1883, called the Edison & Swan United Electric Light Company (also later known as Ediswan) to manufacture and market the invention in Britain.

    Swan's house, Underhill on Kells Lane in Low Fell, Gateshead, Tyne & Wear, was also the first house first in the world to have working incandescent light bulbs installed - and also the first to have a true "light switch".

    So Edison was not the first to create a working carbon filament lamp, or demonstrate a working device, nor was he the first to make a lamp suitable for production. He was however the first to the US Patent Office...
    Also Swan's patented process to produce nitro-cellulose conducting fibres, was used instead of the bamboo filaments that Edison devised, although the Edison company in the USA continued to use bamboo until the 1892 merger that created the Edison General Electric company, which then used Swan's process instead.

    I'm an antique bulb collector, and this Edison thing is something of a 'pet hate' of mine. :)
    .......... J. Barnes, Low Fell, Gateshead, Tyne & wear, England, 21st of June 2010

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